The scoop: One of the state's oldest breweries has jumped on board with one of craft brewing's newest trends: canned beer. Bitter Root Brewing, which opened in 1998, started canning its Sawtooth Ridge Golden Ale, Blown Out Brown Ale and Bitter Root Single Hop a couple weeks ago. The first limited runs have started to show up on local shelves in six-packs, alongside Bitter Root's standard 22-ounce bomber bottles.
The plan: Owner and founder Tim Bozik says the brewery made the decision a year ago during the annual Montana Brewers Association event in Missoula. "It was time," he says. "The 22-ounce packaging is great, but it just doesn't allow the same market diversity." After making the decision, Bozik set in motion a plan to expand the Hamilton brewery, add more brew tanks and purchase a canning machine. "This is the responsible thing to do," he says. "You're not going to toss four 22-ounce bottles in your backpack and go climb a mountain, then carry your empties back. But cans are a different story."
The future: In addition to the three beers now available, Bozik says they're working on reformulating an IPA and hope to have it canned by spring or summer. The 22-ouncers will continue "as long as demand remains" with all of Bitter Root's seasonal favorites, including the Last Cast Black IPA, Red Dread Imperial Red Ale and Huckleberry Honey Ale.
Where to get them: We scored a Sawtooth six-pack at Good Food Store, but multiple other Missoula locations stock Bitter Root cans, including Orange Street Food Farm. Bozik says production is limited at the start—some shelves have been missing the Single Hop—but will increase in coming weeks.
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